A change of name is something many trans* people view as an essential part of transition. It is also generally required as part of the “real life experience” by GICs in order to access hormones and surgery.
Fortunately, changing your name legally is quick, easy and free. Here is a link to a Google document with a template for a legal Deed Poll and instructions on how to fill it in. This site has another template, plus a useful checklist of steps to follow. Some more information on Deeds Poll is here. You can also change your name by Statutory Declaration, although this has to be drawn up by a solicitor, who will usually charge a fee.
Changing your name works slightly differently in Scotland – some information is here.
Who to inform
Once you have changed your name, you need to inform people of the change. Technically, this is what actually changes your name – a Deed Poll is a statement of intent, and it is “usage and repute” that makes the actual change. However organisations will usually want to see a Deed Poll before updating their records. You will need to inform HMRC, the DVLA (if you have a driving license), the Passport Office (if you have a passport), the DWP, your employer/school/university/college (if applicable), among others.
Changing your title and gender record
Changing your gender marker is also often an essential part of transition, in proving your “real life experience”. You do not need a Gender Recognition Certificate to change your gender marker. The only exception to this is in the case of the DWP, whose national insurance/tax records are in your legal gender and will only be updated if you send them a copy of a Gender Recognition Certificate – however you can still change your name with them. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has some more useful information, including the specific policies followed by certain agencies, here. This document from Press For Change also has more information.
Changing to a new title (e.g. Ms/Mr/Miss) is usually straightforward, as these titles do not have any legal standing. Gender neutral titles such as Mx are gaining in popularity and are recognised by some high street banks. It is possible to add a clause into a Deed Poll stating that you wish to be addressed using a new title. Whilst this isn’t necessary for changing your title, having it listed on your Deed Poll might make it easier to get it changes with service providers.
If you have problems
Some organisations can be reluctant to process name, title and gender marker changes. This is generally due to ignorance and transphobia. In such situations, the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010 are your friends, particularly the former. Organisations have a legal duty to ensure the data they have about you is accurate and up to date, and are generally very aware of their obligations under this legislation.
DVLA Change name/gender:
DWP and HMRC Special Section D address:
Department for Work & Pensions (Benefits)/ HM Revenue & Customs (Tax):
(Address for sensitive cases: The central Office of the Department for Work & Pensions, Special Section D, Room BP 9207, NIC & EO, HMRC, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE98 1ZZ. Tel: 0191 225 7123)
Passport Change name/gender:
Press For Change guide to changing your name: